Sunday, March 8, 2009

Basil Pesto

Pesto is an amazing food - and one that Mrs Grendel and I do not share.

By that I mean that I love it and Mrs Grendel does not like, not one little bit, so when I eat pesto, I eat it alone.

I have had a terrific season for basil this year - I only grew 5 plants but each flourished and I have been supplying basil to the local pizzeria (owned by my next-door neighbour) for their Margarita pizza.

I finally got around to picking up some pine nuts so that I could prepare a small tub of pesto to flavour the much smaller meals I eat these days.

Pesto is high in calorific content, so use it sparingly but the flavour from this recipe is intense so you actually don't need much at all.


  • 1.5 cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (see below)
  • 60 grams of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 55 grams of toasted pine nuts
  • 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


There are very few things so easy to prepare. First toast the pine nuts very gently and loow to cool. You can either do this by placing them on a tray in a low-to moderate oven for 10-15 minutes until they just start to brown, or my preferred method is to place them in a large frypan at very low heat and stir continuously until browned. Allow the pine nuts to cool and head outside to pick your fresh basil. If you have none of your own, make sure any basil you buy is very fresh. Wash the basil and dry the leaves gently.

Peel the garlic gloves and add these, along with the basil, cheese and pine nuts into a food processor. Give it a quick pulse and slowly add the oil. When you have an even consistency spoon it carefully into a small container for storage. Pesto can be frozen if you pour a layer of oil on the top before freezing. Allow to thaw slowly in the fridge for a day before use.

I've never had to freeze mine - it doesn't last that long around me.

Note on buying garlic - it is really important to choose garlic carefully. Locally grown garlic has an allicin content high enough to give it that delicious garlic 'bite' and allowing the garlic flavour to be heard along with the fresh basil.

Imported garlic, especially that from China, is very 'weak' in comparison. The Chinese garlic is often bleached white and the monoculture of garlic variety that seems to come from China lacks anything like the fresh locally grown product. Some imported garlic from Argentina and Mexico falls between the locally grown and Chinese garlic for flavour.

Vital Statistics

For those interested in such information one serve of this recipe (about a 15th of the total amount you make) includes approximately:

98 Calories
408 Kilojoules
9.9g Fat
2.1g Protein
0.4g Carbohydrate
0.1g Fibre

Obviously the less you use, the less calorific content. To get the totals for the recipe - just multiply by 15.

1 comment:

Brad said...

Thanks Grendel,

Basil is my favourite herb and pesto is great even just tossed through pasta.

Have you tried roasting or frying the garlic before processing? I find that uncooked garlic tends to leave a much more pungent and long-lasting aftertaste.